Too Thrifty Chicks

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To Memphis, With Love

Dear Memphis,

I have spent many hours talking about what I don’t like about you, detailing the ways you make me feel like I have image3stepped back in time or like I am a unicorn living in a city that cannot make space for me. Yet, I haven’t taken as much time to give you love; to thank you for the beautiful things you have added to my life. When I needed a place to manifest new things in my life, you welcomed me. You have produced daughters and sons who have invited me into their homes and circles, plying me image5with alcohol, laughs, hugs and fire pits. Daily I see the potential of your beauty manifested in your people; folks who love you fiercely but challenge you to be better. When I walk down your streets, I am reminded of so many of the reasons why I research the things I do. The vacant lots, boarded up windows, and underdevelopment are by design. You, my dear, were set up to fail while the surrounding suburbs were created to be the meccas in which the “good” folks could find refuge. But you have not failed. You have and are producing greatness, even in the face of many stumbling blocks. And for that, I will always be rooting for you. On your streets and in your buildings, my thoughts and hopes have ricocheted what I thought were hollow cries, but you heard me. In you, I have rekindled my love for silence and solitude. Like Santiago I have struggled image7with figuring out what I want the universe to conspire to make happen. And you have give me the space, the time, and the resources to do that as I have felt and expressed every emotion one feels when you’re on a roller coaster love affair. So, today, I honor you for the beauty you have given me: new friends, new dreams, and new perspectives. Thank you, Memphis, for being part of my life’s journey. Whenever I look around and want to hate you, you send me a small reminder–in a person, in a mural, in a sunset over the Mississippi River, on a dance floor on Beale Street–that there are so many reasons to love you. It is not easy to love you. Sometimes it feels like a struggle to wake up and choose you every day. But you are now a part of me and I a part of you.

With Love,

Ashanté


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1500+ miles, unpacking, and grocery shopping (or, my first week in Memphis)

So….I left D.C. just over a week ago. since then, I’ve unpacked about 20 boxes, assembled bookshelves, shopped at three grocery stores (only one of which I like), made far too many trips to Target, and took a weekend trip to St. Louis to participate in my friend’s beautiful wedding. And somewhere in there, I had time to breathe and realize I might like this city.

Let me be real: I had no expectations. None. Not good. Not bad. Just neutral. I was excited about the job opportunity but since I had only visited Memphis once (and that was for the job interview), I had no idea if I would like the city….and coming from the D.C. area (which I love), I was a little nervous.

So far, so good.image_7

I live in a part of town called Midtown that is going through a lot of changes. I bet once I read up on the city and it’s history, I may find that it is undergoing gentrification like many neighborhoods I’m familiar with in D.C. But from what I know so far, I love it. Bike lanes, good restaurants, Overton Park, and cool little shops like the Square Olive, a store that sells amazing variations of olive oil. It’s also close to a couple yoga and pilates studios that I plan to try.

I am pleasantly surprised with how at home I feel. My godparents stopped by for a visit yesterday on their way back to Texas, and I was so happy to show them my place (which I am happy to show you more of soon) and try a neighborhood restaurant. Maybe more than any other place I’ve lived, I feel like I am more likely to become part of the neighborhood…..which, as someone who does neighborhood research for a living, is an interesting process.

Memphis isn’t a pretty city and who knows if I will love it or hate it long term?  I’m not concerned about that, though. The city has some nice quirks that I am interested in exploring…and I plan to enjoy the process. So, for now, I’m super duper excited about my storage bed being delivered tomorrow and my sofa being delivered on Friday! So far, three DIY projects are pending. I bet you’re ready to see them….I hope so. I’m ready to play in paint! 😉 For now, here are a few snapshots of my apartment as a nearly blank canvas.

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Before I go, big shout out to Ricks, my person-in-crime. She’s here with me helping me get settled and explore the city. I know this process would have been much different without her.

Until next time,

-Reesey


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Dear God, I’m Here!

This time last year I had a lot of questions and no answers. I was in a grey place in a romantic relationship….that place where you’re technically broken up, but you’re still going back and forth about whether you did the right thing or if you can do something to make it work. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish my PhD. I was tired and directionless. I was feeling envious toward people who were gaining clarity in ways I was not–even though I was doing all the “right” things to get the direction I needed. My National Science Foundation grant funding for my research had ended, but thankfully I got a research job doing something interesting. I was trying to listen to the universe, but I was also very afraid of taking a wrong step.

Fast forward to 2014. I spent my birthday in Johannesburg, South Africa which was amazingly awesome…one of the best birthdays ever (we will have to do a post about the trip at some point). The next day, January 3rd, my sister told me via Facebook that my grandmother, one of the people who raised me, died. We had three days left in our trip, so I locked away the grief until I got home. But even when I returned, I felt not only my grief, but my (perceived and real) isolation from family. In March, our church did a Lenten fast called, “Surprise Me, God!” And oh was I surprised. In six weeks’ time, my car was broken into,  my laptop was stolen, I needed $1000 worth of repairs to my car, and I ended up in the Emergency Room.

March 30th was a Sunday. That morning, I decided I was going to go to church, even if I didn’t feel like it. On the way to church, a good friend texted me and asked if there was anything she could pray for. I responded, “pray that I can be still and know.” Got to church and the text for that day’s sermon was Psalm 46:1-11, which includes the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” That, for me, was confirmation that though I had had a tumultuous twelve months, and 2014 was off to a rocky start, I was going to be ok. I just had to chill.

The next day I decided three things: 1) I didn’t really want a postdoctoral position I had applied for, even though it was a good fit on paper, 2) I was willing and ready to leave D.C. and 3) I was ready for (and needed) change. Around 4pm that same day, I got a call from the Dean at Rhodes College inviting me to participate in a Skype interview for a job that I thought I wasn’t competitive for, since I hadn’t heard anything in months. To make a long story short, I did the Skype interview, was invited to an on campus interview, and was offered the job in a span of about 2.5 weeks.

I accepted the job and it’s official: I’m moving to Memphis, y’all!

This post is not intended to be a “life was awful but now it’s good” kind of post. Actually, it’s a “life is always happening…good or bad and you have to roll with it” post. Sometimes crazy shit happens in succession and you cannot believe what is happening in your life. Sometimes good stuff is happening and you feel like, “man, I’m finally living.” But that’s not true. What I have learned over the past year is that you’re always living. Life is always happening. It doesn’t start or stop because something good or bad happens. Life is in all the details. In some ways, I am very excited about this move to Memphis. In other ways, I am pensive. Yet, even though it’s a major change, this year has taught me many things, one of them being that no matter how big or small the change is, I’ll be ok….because life is always changing. Always. I might cry, cuss, scream, smile, laugh, etc. at all the things that are happening, but that’s what we’re supposed to do, isn’t it? It reminds us that we’re present in everything. I look back to a year ago, and I can hardly believe where I am now. But as Miss Celie said as she left one life to start another, “Dear God, I’m here!”

Stay tuned, y’all. I have many stories to tell about trying to figure out this move on a budget….and I KNOW y’all wanna hear about my new place! 🙂

-Reese

P.S.-If you know any cool people in Memphis, introduce me!